RALEIGH – Like many populous and growing areas in the country, North Carolina’s urban nodes sport a kaleidoscope of nationalities and multicultural diasporas. With growing populations and cultural outreach of Chinese immigrants, the Triangle, Charlotte, and other parts of the state have Chinese New Year festivals and events. This year, however, an outbreak of a a new virus is causing at least one of those events to be postponed.
The Lightup festival in Chapel Hill, originally scheduled for February 2, has been postponed out of fears of spreading a virus outbreak among a concentrated group of people that have been to and from China recently. The virus, still with out a vaccine, has infected 2,900 people and an official death tolls of 81 people as of publication, according to the Chinese government. It is hard to imagine quarantining 50 million people — FIVE TIMES the population of North Carolina — as they have in China, for under 3,000 infections. Reports from within China suggest the numbers of infected and dead may be much higher.
A whistleblower nurse, treating sick patients in China, says the number of infected in more like 90,000 people. Other leaked accounts report patients being lined up in hallways in some overrun hospitals, with many dying. With an authoritarian government the likes of communist China, it’s easy to imagine them suppressing the numbers to help cover up internal chaos.
The virus has already spread across the world in dozens of cases, several in the United States. Over the weekend, there was a scare here in North Carolina. A person that arrived at RDU international airport on January 23 from Wuhan China, the epicenter of the outbreak, was admitted to the hospital with flu like symptoms. Luckily, however, the patient tested negative for the feared virus.
Wall Street has taken notice of the possible implications of this outbreak. With 50 million people in quarantine mode, that means economic activity comes to a screeching halt. The DOW was off by more than 400 points early on the day.
Back here in North Carolina we seem to be in the clear for now. Hopefully it stays that way and the viral spread is arrested in China as quickly as possible.